Totally subjective question, of course, but movie mag Empire decided to try and answer anyway, its writers nutting out who they thought were the greatest video game characters of all time. The winner? It wasn't Mario.
It wasn't Lara Croft, either. Or Master Chief. Or Link or Snake or even Mai Shiranui.
No, the winner in a surprisingly tasteful - and thus highly enjoyable - contest was Half-Life's Gordon Freeman. I say surprisingly because Shodan, the terrifying villain from System Shock 2, came in third, while Planescape Torment's "Nameless One" was fourth. Those are straight out of Awesome Stadium's left field.
The Empire staff compiled a list of 50, and you can read the results at the link below. Sadly, the cantankerous old "WANT SOME RYE" guy from Return to Zork didn't make the cut.
The 50 Greatest Video Game Characters [Empire]